If you haven’t noticed it before, Effetre makes a special seeded tube glass rod. They are only around 5-6 mm in width and I recently got an email asking what these special tubes are used for.
On one of the trips I took to Effetre that is located on Murano, I saw a bin of the seeded tube glass and asked through the translator what it was typically used for. I was informed that it was used to make long straight glass beads of different lengths, depending on how the beads were going to be applied. The two most typical uses for the beads turn’s out to be for either a beaded fringe on a Victorian style lamp shade or a beaded door curtain. The beaded door curtains have a nice tinkling glass sound when you pass through them and the long tube beads provide translucent color that lets light through without being transparent.
When I first got some of the seeded glass tubes from Effetre to work with, I tried to blow little beads out of it. This experiment didn’t work out too well, I could make little decorated blown beads out of it but they were not too interesting and a lot of trouble to make.
Since that time, I have asked many flameworkers what they do with this unusual seeded tube glass. One of the most interesting uses I have seen, was to tack fuse a piece of the seeded tubing to a small fused pendant to create a channel to string the pendant on to a necklace.
One way I have used the seeded tube glass is to make it into the body of a ball point pen, making the barrel of the pen long enough to hold the ink cartridge. I close off one end of the tube and insert the cartridge in the open end.
Some flameworkers use these seeded tubes in their solid lampworked bead to create patches of tiny air bubbles as part of the design. I like to make zig zag tube beads to use in necklaces.
To make zig zag beads, I take a tungsten pick and stick it in the hole as a holding device. I then heat the tube evenly all the way around and then gently bend the tube, making sure not to bend it so much that I close off the hole running through the tube. The seeded tube glass has a marvelous shampoo sheen to the surface of the glass which can make a lovely addition to a necklace or even a pair of earrings. Zig zag beads can get pretty long in length, but there are beading needles that are 3 ½ inches long and very flexible which makes them perfect for threading through the bent zigzag beads.
To make clean breaks in the tubing, take a pair of disc glass cutters and grip the tube with the disc and score all the way around the tube and then snap the tube with your finger at the score mark. You will get such a clean break that it will require very little sanding to smooth the ends. If you choose to heat the ends of your tube beads, you will lose a number of them to tiny fractures from the heating process.